Matt Connolly

DC Senior Editorial Fellow

Before joining Mother Jones, Matt was a local reporter for the dearly departed Washington Examiner. He has also written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, Chicago Public Radio, and the Times of Trenton.

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Washington Football Team Starts Charity, Is Absolved of Racism

| Tue Mar. 25, 2014 12:51 PM PDT

Good news out of Washington: Local NFL team owner Dan Snyder reflected on the challenges facing Native Americans, and, in a letter released Monday, promises to change the team's n—

Wait, sorry. Snyder actually defends the team's name as "rooted in pride." After traveling the country and hearing from tribal leaders, though, Snyder says the real problem is that keeping the team's racial slur name is just too small an honor. "It's not enough to celebrate the values and heritage of Native Americans," he writes. "We must do more." Enter the Original Americans Foundation.

The foundation is meant to "provide meaningful and measurable resources that provide genuine opportunities for Tribal communities." Its work has already started: Snyder writes that the charity purchased a backhoe for the Omaha Tribe in Nebraska and donated coats and shoes to several other tribes. "Because I'm so serious about the importance of this cause, I began our efforts quietly and respectfully, away from the spotlight," Snyder notes in the four-page letter, which was quietly and respectfully posted on the front page of the team's website, away from the spotlight.

See the whole letter, which Indian Country Today called "rife with self-satisfaction and misdirection," below:


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GIFs: The Big Dance's Best Dances (So Far)

| Fri Mar. 21, 2014 1:49 PM PDT

You toss the ball into the air as time runs out, falling to the court as your teammates rush over from the bench. Your school—which half of America just Wikipedia'd to figure out what state it's in—just pulled off a miracle victory against a better-ranked, better-funded, big-name opponent. What are you going to do next?

You're going to dance, of course. You're going to dance on the sideline, you're going to dance in the locker room, and you're going to dance behind your coach while he tries to give a TV interview. These Cinderellas came to the ball prepared—we'd put them in a bracket and rank the best dances, but we have no idea how the winners would celebrate.

For example, here's Kevin Canevari, a senior for new national treasure Mercer University, who capped off the Bears' victory over third-seeded Duke with this gem:

Not to be outdone, fellow senior Anthony White Jr. did the robot while his coach was interviewed:

Jordan Sibert, Devon Scott, and Devin Oliver danced in the locker room after proving Dayton's dominance in THE state of Ohio. Or maybe they're just happy that someone ordered pizza:

North Dakota State's overtime victory against favored Oklahoma was impressive. The locker room choreography between Carlin Dupree, Kory Brown, and Lawrence Alexander afterward was even better:

5 Best Movie Songs Never Nominated for an Oscar

| Mon Mar. 3, 2014 4:00 AM PST

On the one hand, it's a little tired to obsess over Oscar snubs in what is essentially a Hollywood popularity contest. On the other, we wouldn't have to do this if the Academy weren't so wrong all the time. These five original songs, whether for petty rules reasons or basic Academy oversight, couldn't even garner nominations—but they're still more than worth your time.

Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise" (Dangerous Minds, 1995): Did you even remember this movie existed? It's novel, groundbreaking plot—a passionate teacher gets inner city kids to love learning!—and high level schmaltz were panned by critics. Roger Ebert even dug into the autobiography the film was based on and found that the real-life teacher used famous hip-hop songs to connect with her students—the movie (ironically, given the soundtrack) whitewashes the musical connection to Bob Dylan. "Gangsta's Paradise" rightfully eclipsed its source material, going on to sell millions of copies, inspire one of Weird Al's most popular songs, and win a Grammy and two MTV Video Music Awards. Coolio's trophy case lacks an Oscar, though, since songs that rely on sampled or reworked material can't be nominated. (Stevie Wonder's "Pastime Paradise" is sampled throughout.) "Colors of the Wind" from Disney's Pocahontas won that year instead, beating out another artist on this list.

Radiohead's "Exit Music (For a Film)" (Romeo+Juliet, 1996): This haunting track plays over the credits to Baz Luhrmann's modernization of Shakespeare. The band didn't want it to be included on the movie's official soundtrack, though, so it ended up on 1997's OK Computer, which did pretty well for itself. Radiohead was on tour with Alanis Morisette when Luhrmann sent over an unfinished cut of the last 30 minutes of the film and asked for a song. The rest is history, though the success of "Exit Music" was far from assured at the time; guitarist Ed O'Brien said in a 1997 interview that he didn't like the idea of a credits song because "it will have to compete with the sound of chairs clapping up." Madonna's "You Must Love Me" won the Oscar that year, but Radiohead can still lay claim to stopping Marilyn Manson from jumping off a cliff.


"America (Fuck Yeah)" (from Team America: World Police, 2004): It shouldn't be too controversial to call this the best patriotic satire ever to be featured in a movie starring marionettes. The South Park crew's action extravaganza struck out at the Oscars—maybe because the movie killed off half of Hollywood—but this track lives on in the hearts and minds of YouTube uploaders and internet commenters everywhere. Jorge Drexler's "Al otro lado del río" from The Motorcycle Diaries took home the statue, beating out the Counting Crows song that made sure an entire generation would never revisit August and Everything After.


Bruce Springsteen's "The Wrestler" (The Wrestler, 2008): The Boss already has an Oscar for "Streets of Philadelphia" and was nominated again for 1995's "Dead Man Walkin'." That doesn't make "The Wrestler" any less deserving though. Bruce wrote the song after receiving a heartfelt letter from star Mickey Rourke—the two had been friends, but lost touch in he midst of Rourke's personal troubles—and ended up giving them the track for free. The melancholy track won a Golden Globe, but to everyone's surprise wasn't even nominated by the Academy. "Jai Ho" from Slumdog Millionaire won that year. At least it was a much worthier competitor than Miley Cyrus' "The Climb," which beat out "The Wrestler" for a prestigious MTV Movie Award.


Metric's "Black Sheep" (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, 2010): That every original song from this move wasn't given 10 Oscars each is a crime that Canadian courts are probably too polite to prosecute. Beck, Broken Social Scene, and Metric served as stand-ins for the Toronto-set film's bands, with "Black Sheep" getting the nod for actress Brie Larson's performance in the movie itself. (Metric's full version appears on the soundtrack.) Randy Newman's "We Belong Together" from Toy Story 3 won the Oscar that year, probably because Academy members couldn't stop crying. Still, in an alternate universe, Metric wins and Crash and the Boys play "We Hate You Please Die" on the Oscar stage.

Correction: The original post incorrectly listed Alison Brie, not Brie Larson, as the actress who performed in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World.

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